Sheikh Jarrah
Nationalist youth clearing out property in Sheikh Jarrah in 2009. Photo by Archive: Maya Levin / Jini
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Both the Farhan and Harisha families who live in Jewish-owned homes in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood are staying put for now. Settlers twice attempted to evict them but were denied by the Jerusalem courts.

About a month and a half ago, the Jerusalem District Court rejected a petition by Jewish activists to evict the Farhan family, ruling that the suit had various legal faults.

Then, two weeks ago, Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Irit Cohen ruled that the Harisha family, who live adjacent to the Farhans, had proved that although the home is Jewish-owned, they have the status of protected tenants and cannot be evicted.

The latter suit was filed by Debril, a company registered in Delaware, which serves as a front for right-wing groups to buy real estate in Jerusalem. The company argued that the Palestinians had lost their rights as protected tenants because they hadn't paid rent for decades, and they had renovated without permission.

But the court ruled that the family had signed contracts with the Jordanian authorities before 1967, and that it was Israel's Custodian of Properties that told them to stop paying rent. Thus, the Harisha family had not lost its protected tenant status, Judge Cohen said.

In Ramle, meanwhile, another Arab family got a reprieve Tuesday in its battle against eviction, when the Central District Court canceled its earlier order to remove the Alajo family from the public housing in which it lives.

Judge Avraham Yaakov said he was delaying the possible eviction "due to the fact that irreparable damage could be done if the eviction is not postponed."

Over the past month, the family with the help of 56 relatives, and aided by the Solidarity With Sheikh Jarrah movement, has been fighting eviction, holding protests and decrying the lack of public housing for the Arab community.

The Alajos, expelled from Lod, came to Ramle in 1948. Without legal permission the family expanded the structure it had received from the Amidar housing company and thus lost their protected tenant status. The family was meant to be removed from their home on April 7.

The Alajos recruited their extended family to occupy the structure, in the hope this would prevent, or at least delay, the eviction.

Now family members are planning a big "victory" party for next Wednesday night, after the daily fast for Ramadan ends. They plan to invite tent protesters from across the country, as they feel their case is the first victory to result from the national campaign against the high cost of housing.

The outcome of their case, however, is far from clear, though the court decision gives them at least a few months' breathing room.

"We will have to come to some sort of arrangement with them [Amidar]," said Jihan Alajo, who led the family's battle.